It was announced earlier this year that Shell have embarked on the task of decommissioning Brent, one of their most iconic oil fields. This brings the challenge of plugging the 154 wells and taking apart the four platforms that marked one of Britain’s most memorable North Sea fields. Over the next 10 years there is a substantial amount of work to be tackled with 200 platforms anticipated for complete or partial removal and 7,800 km of pipeline due for retirement.
After years of budget cuts, forced redundancies and limited optimism for the North Sea Oil and Gas Industry, decommissioning opportunities could now offer a new spark to the once roaring flame. With 214 out of 349 fields scheduled for decommissioning in our waters, we can already see developments that will make the U.K, and in particular the North East of Scotland, a world leader in this juvenile yet vital industry.
Dundee has now established itself as a hub for North Sea decommissioning. Specialists in well abandonment ‘Well-Safe Solutions’ recently opted to seat their onshore marine support base in the city. Their 40,000 square feet acquisition will provide Well-Safe with unhindered access to the ANSS decommissioning facilities and, with a wide selection of decommissioning companies already contributing to this growing opportunity, they are now primed to take full advantage of the 49% expenditure expected to be devoted to plugging and abandonment.
Robert Gordon University has recently launched a state of the art decommissioning simulator to teach and test the skills required for future operations. The simulator, which will focus on well-plugging and abandonment, is the first of its kind and aims to improve efficiency and reduce forthcoming costs. When preparing the future workforce and expertise for this sector, we won’t find more technology and talent being invested into decommissioning than here in the UK.
The University of Aberdeen also boasts the first and only master’s degree in decommissioning. This poses an exciting step forward for the industry, ushering in new knowledge and capabilities to an area that needs to overcome the barriers of recent diversification.
The potential for this sector is clearly recognised, expenditure over the next five years could amount to between £1.7 and £2 billion per year on the UK continental shelf alone.
Companies like MML Offshore are integral to this development and will act as a key supplier for all those involved. We offer a range of DNV 2.7-3 certified Subsea Baskets which are designed to provide support for decommissioning projects and ROV operations. Additionally, we supply DNV certified CCU’s, engineering laboratories and other engineered solutions.
With our experienced staff and vast product range, MML Offshore can offer cost effective solutions or valued engineering without compromise. By being able to design and customise bespoke products, we can continually provide a trusted service that delivers to our client’s needs.
The oil prices of the North Sea ‘boom’ pre 2014 may never be replicated, however, with continued investment and innovation, the steps being taken here in the UK will ensure the industry remains profitable and sustainable.